Bamia (Okra with Tomatoes and Chickpeas)


This is a quick and flavorful vegetarian/vegan meal. It is a favorite of ours. It tastes even better the next day. Serve it with Basmati rice.

Bamia (Okra with Tomatoes and Chickpeas)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 15.5 ounce cans chickpeas, drained
1 pound frozen whole okra (or fresh), ends trimmed
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 cup vegetable broth
salt and black pepper, to taste
fresh cilantro, chopped

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chickpeas, okra, tomatoes, cumin, and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce the temperature to medium-low. Cook until the okra is soft, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with warm rice (I like Basmati) and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro.

Cajun Okra Soup

Cajun Okra Soup

I started on my low iodine diet (LID) today to prepare my body to go radioactive in two weeks. I will be on the diet for 16 days. During that time I cannot eat iodized or sea salt, dairy products, soy products, seafood, sea products, potato skins, whole eggs, red dyes, or anything with any of those ingredients in it. I am limited to 5 – 6 ounces of fresh meat and 4 servings of grains a day. I can go off the diet once I have my nuclear whole body scan on March 20th.

I had to do LID around this time last year. By the end of those 16 days I was pretty miserable, more psychologically than anything. I think I am better prepared this time.

I made this soup for lunch today. I used no salt added tomatoes and homemade stock to comply with the rules of LID.

Okra Soup

Cajun Okra Soup

2 tablespoons oil
1 large onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 14. 5 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 pound bag frozen sliced okra
1 zucchini, diced
6 cups vegetable broth
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/8 cayenne pepper (or to taste)
salt and pepper, to taste

cooked rice to serve (optional)
hot sauce

Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery, and bell pepper. Cook until the vegetables are tender. Add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil and cook until the okra and zucchini are tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with hot rice and hot sauce.

For LID: use no salt added diced tomatoes and use unsalted or homemade vegetable or chicken broth. Don’t use hot sauce (unless you know it is LID-friendly).

Curried Lentils with Chickpeas and Okra

Curried Lentils with Chickpeas and Okra

This is a quick and easy meal that is perfect for weeknights. It’s spicy, vegan, and packed with protein and fiber. It’s also appropriate for LID (low iodine diet), which I will have to go back on in March to prepare for a nuclear whole body scan.

Curried Lentils with Chickpeas and Okra

2 tablespoons oil
1 onion, quartered and sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup okra, sliced (fresh or frozen)
1 14.5 ounce can chickpeas, drained
1 cup lentils, picked over and rinsed
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced (optional)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon curry powder (I used Madras)
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt (or to taste)
3 cups water
Fresh cilantro, chopped

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute until tender. Add the garlic and jalapenos and cook another minute. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring often, until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. You may have to add a little more water if the mixture gets too dry. When the lentils are tender, sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve with hot rice.


Spicy Roasted Okra

Spicy Roasted Okra

One of the many joys of no longer having a thyroid is the non-existent metabolism. I have put on 17 pounds since my thyroidectomy surgery in January. Having been diagnosed with hypothyroidism over 13 years ago, I’m no stranger to the weight issues that go along with thyroid disease. Right before my thyroid cancer diagnosis, I was on a sugar-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free diet for 6 months. In that 6 months I lost a whopping 4 pounds. It’s discouraging. I don’t have room for extra weight so I have resorted to calorie counting. There are some great free apps out there to make it easier. I’m aiming for 1500 to 1700 calories a day for (hopefully) weight loss.

My hubby works late on Thursdays and I usually end up making something simple for my dinner. Last Thursday I roasted a batch of fresh okra. I love okra. Roasted Okra is totally addicting and satisfying too. Plus, it’s super easy to make. I used a jalapeno from my garden and it was super hot. It made for some SPICY Roasted Okra. It was so spicy, I got the hiccups. Do you get hiccups when you eat spicy/hot foods?

Vegetables typically have lower calorie counts than other foods, so it makes sense to eat more of them to aid in weight loss 1 pound of fresh okra has 124 calories! 1 tablespoon of canola oil also has 124 calories. 1 jalapeno has about 4 calories. This entire recipe (if made with 1 tablespoon of canola oil) only has 152 calories! So, there’s no guilt when I eat the entire batch of Roasted Okra by myself. : )

Roasted Okra

Spicy Roasted Okra

1 pound fresh okra pods, ends trimmed
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
1 – 2 tablespoons oil (I used canola)
Kosher salt and pepper
spices of your choice (I used garlic powder and cumin)

Preheat the oven to 450° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

Cut the okra pods in half lengthwise. In a large bowl, toss the okra and sliced jalapeno with the oil. Season the okra to taste with Kosher salt, pepper, and preferred spices. Arrange the okra in a single layer on the baking sheet.

Roast the okra in the oven for 20 minutes, stirring once half-way through cooking. I like the okra right when it starts to crisp up and brown.


Chicken and Okra Stew

IMG_2337 (640x480)

I made this delicious stew using okra, bell peppers, and tomatoes from the farmers’ market and jalapenos from my garden. Make sure to buy smaller okra pods so they will be tender and not fibrous. Serve the stew over hot cooked rice.

Chicken and Okra Stew

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 pound chicken breast, cubed
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 jalapenos, stems and seeds removed, minced
3 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeds removed, and chopped (or a 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes)
2 cups chicken broth
1 pound fresh okra, ends trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
salt and pepper, to taste
Cooked white or brown rice

In a Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon of the canola oil over medium-high heat. Season the cubed chicken with a pinch of salt and pepper, add to the pot, and cook until just no longer pink. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of canola oil to the Dutch oven. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, and minced jalapeno to the pot and cook, stirring often until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the tomatoes, chicken broth, and okra and bring to a boil. Add the reserved chicken and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the okra is tender, about 15 minutes. Season the stew with salt and pepper and serve with cooked white or brown rice.

Pickled Okra

I love okra. I especially love pickled okra. A jar of pickled okra in the grocery store can run about $4, so canning my own is definitely the way to go. One of the best things about living in South Carolina is access to fresh okra. Last Friday, a friend and I went to the State Farmers’ Market. I picked up a basket of fresh, small okra pods for $4.They were perfect for pickling. Canning is an easy and thrifty way to save summer produce for use other times of the year.

Pickled Okra

6 pounds fresh, small okra pods, washed and ends trimmed

3 cups vinegar
3 cups water
1/3 cup salt (not iodized) – I used Kosher salt

6 cloves garlic, peeled
6 tsp. dill seeds
6 dried chile peppers (optional) – I used chile flakes (about 1/2 tsp. per jar)

6 pint size mason jars with bands and new lids
large canning pot

also useful:
jar grabber
lid lifter
jar funnel

Fill a large canning pot with water and bring to a boil. You will need enough water so that the upright jars will be covered by an inch of water or so. Add the clean glass mason jars, bands, and lids to the water and boil for 10 minutes to sterilize. Remove the jars and lids from the boiling water and place on paper towels to drain. Let the water continue to boil so it will be ready to process the filled jars.

Bring the vinegar, water, and salt to a boil in a large pan. Turn off the heat.

Place 1 clove of garlic, 1 teaspoon dill seeds, and 1 dried chile (if using) in each sterile jar and then pack tightly with okra pods. Leave about 1/2 inch of space from the top of the jar. Repeat with all 6 jars. Pour hot pickling solution over the okra in each jar, leaving 1/4 to 1/2 inch of space from the top of the jar. Insert a clean knife around the inside of the jar to release air bubbles. Add more pickling solution if needed. Wipe the edges of the jars with a clean paper towel and place lids and bands on each jar. Tighten the bands, but do not over-tighten.

Carefully place each filled jar in the boiling water in the canning pot. Place the lid on the pot and boil for 10 minutes. Processing time increases with higher altitude and larger size jars.

After 10 minutes, remove jars from the water and let cool on a towel. Once they start cooling, you will hear popping sounds as the jars seal. It is a glorious sound. Once the jars have cooled completely, check to make sure they are sealed. To check, just press down the center of the lid. If it pops up and down, the jar has not sealed. You can place the jars that do not seal in the refrigerator and can still use the contents. Label and date your jars. Store in a cool place, like the pantry. The pickled okra will be ready to eat in 3 or 4 days. Use the pickles within 1 year of canning.

Okra Patties

This is another interesting recipe from my friend Donna, who is an okra lover like me.  Okra is one of those veggies that people either love or hate.  It’s good for you because it’s high in fiber, vitamins A and C, folate, thiamin, potassium, and magnesium. Select okra that is small (2 to 3 inches in length…otherwise it will be tough), deep green, firm, and free of blemishes.  This is a good recipe to try if you think you don’t like okra.   The okra patties are very easy to put together and the amounts of ingredients don’t have to be exact.  Feel free to play around with ingredients. When I made the okra patties, I divided the mixture in half and seasoned one half with just salt and pepper.  They were excellent eaten with a little ketchup.  I added cumin and garam masala to the other half for an Indian-inspired flavor.  I ate those with tamarind chutney and really enjoyed that combination as well.

Okra Patties

1 lb. okra
1 egg, beaten
celery, finely chopped
onion, finely chopped
salt and pepper
favorite spices (like cumin, curry powder, etc…)

Take a pound of fresh okra and wash it. Cut off the ends and boil in water for 5 minutes. Rinse and cool. Chop the cooked okra. Add one beaten egg, some finely chopped celery and onion, spices, and enough breadcrumbs to form patties.  Fry in hot oil until golden.